The Plan

Posted in General Information with tags , , , , , on May 4, 2009 by uziel5000

This is me at my heaviest. 319 pounds.

I HATE these pics

I HATE these pics

Needless to say, there is a lot of work to do. Funny thing though: You are never really aware of just how much you have let yourself go until you see yourself in pictures like these. I certainly didn’t see that when I looked in the mirror. Then you have your picture taken and suddenly you go: “Man! Am I THAT fat? The answer is yes. For me, there were two pictures, taken on New Year’s Eve and new Year’s Day respectively, that really brought things home for me. Those are posted below.
New Year's Eve 2008/2009

New Year's Eve 2008/2009

New Year's day 2009

New Year's day 2009

 That’s my wife and child in that picture above by the way. These pictures were the last straw. Seeing what little neck I had left, it was only a matter of time before my sleep apnea would go from a partial to a total block of the respiratory canal. My wife was going to wake up one day and find me dead. If this sounds melodramatic believe me, it’s not. People who suffer from sleep apnea die in that very same way all the time. The question then, was: What am I going to do about it? This just couldn’t another “attempt”. It had to be a solution and it had to be a permanent one. Earlier in my life I could afford to fail but now I have run out of time and my wife and child are on the line. Here is what I’m currently doing. If you have read my previous posts, you’ll be surprised to see some of the things I’m doing but really, there is a reason behind the madness.

The eating part

People hate counting calories. It’s a hassle, it requires some math, which I hate, and sometimes it lets you know just how much less you are eating which can make you feel hungry. However, I have to say that there is no better or effective way to watch what you eat. The good news is that all the hassle is temporary. After three months of keeping to a 1,800 calorie diet, I have to say that I do very little counting anymore. It just becomes second nature. I mean, you can only look up the calorie content of a grilled chicken breast so many time before it sticks. You simply learn the right portions and combinations that make out your meals. So really, calorie counting is just a hurdle you need to jump. It will become a part of you and it wont annoy you. I promise.

Like I said my diet consists of 1,800 calories. It is also a low-fat diet (I’ll explain why in a minute). I have to stick to about 21 grams of fat a day. This meant I had to work out some stuff. Had to be careful about butter, oils, mayo and high fat proteins like some cuts of beef. I also had to think of some substitutions. I’m a coffee drinker and the latte is my drink of choice. With whole milk that can mean up to 250 calories for a tall serving. Problem: I hate skim milk. And don’t get me started on non-fat milk. They simply weren’t options and 250 calories was half of my breakfast so just when I was starting to think I was gonna have to give it up, somebody gave a sample of vanilla-flavored soy milk while at Costco. I have to say I was really surprised. I used to avoid soy milk like the plague but it really tasted good. Plus, the vanilla flavor really brought out the flavor of my coffee and breakfast cereal. I also switched to low-fat mayo,(which i don’t use much but it tastes just the same) non-fat salad dressing and for butter I use a spread that rhymes with Country Rock. Now, all the low-fat stuff still has fat so you can’t go bananas pouring it over everything. The secret is in the serving size. Stay at or below the serving size and count the calories. For example I can make myself a Turkey Burger with wheat bread, lettuce, tomato, mayo and ketchup and stay well below 500 calories. The condiments help with the flavor and I don’t have to starve.

How many times you eat during the day is up to you. Studies have shown that spreading out your meals from three a day to five or six smaller ones can really boost your metabolism in addition to help you not go hungry. This is not an option for everyone however. Time and work might not allow you to follow such a plan so work with your schedule. I do three meals a day and a snack. Whatever you decide make sure you don’t go past your calorie limit for the day(which can vary per person). The purpose of my snack is to deal with one of my main problem areas: At night, I go crazy. I hate going to bed hungry and I would always cheat at night after a whole day of following a diet. Now, I make sure I have enough calories left at the end of the day to have an early evening snack. A snack that I use to take a multi-vitamin at the end of the day.

In my next post, I will continue to explain THE PLAN.

Things I have learned

Posted in Words of Wisdom with tags , , , , , on April 26, 2009 by uziel5000

In choosing the path I was going to take to change my lifestyle, I did a lot of research and self-analysis to make sure I did everything in my power to avoid failure. I thought about how other attempts that failed and why. I thought about everything I have learned about nutrition and learned some new things along the way. Also, science has revised a lot of things we thought we knew about weight-loss through the years. These are some of the things I have picked up and learned so far.

ALL DIETS (EVEN THE CRAZY ONES) WORK

That’s right. Even the “Pound of Bacon a Day” Diet and whatever else you have heard of. You see, the thing about all diets and fads are based on the same principle: Someone- either by themselves or through some study- tried all these diets and actually lost weight. If that didn’t happen, then they wouldn’t be trying to sell it to you. So, in principle at least, they all work: If you follow the diet as explained, you will lose weight. Period. But if that is true then why do we fail so miserably EVERY TIME WE TRY ONE? The problem, it turns out, is not how diets works. The problem is that they are diets. You see, the definition we have given the word diet implies a finite, temporary thing. You eat a certain way for a period of time and lose x amount of pounds. Then it’s over. You are done. Back to the way you used to eat, or worse. Because you lost some weight, you actually feel you can eat more. The result of course, is you gain the weight back and then some. The worse part is that you end up with even more horrible eating habits than you had when you began the diet.

People who over-eat (and people who are obese and morbidly obese always are) simply cannot approach weight-loss by going on a diet. Not in the traditional sense. If you use the actual definition of the word diet, which simply means “the way eat”, then to lose weight and keep it off we don’t need to go on a diet. We need to change our diet. Forever. That means building an eating plan that allows you to lose weight but at the same time, you will not need to change too much once you achieve your goal weight. In other words, we need to change our lives by eating healthier forever. Of course, the benefits of getting in this state of mind are many. You will not only lose weight, but it will help you keep a more positive attitude and since it is a permanent change, your body will thank you for the rest of your life. I can’t stress this enough. If you are thinking of losing weight and not thinking sbout making permanent changes, it is actually better not to go on a diet at all. In the end you will end up in a worse situation than the one you began with.

THERE IS NO MIRACLE CURE

If it’s true that all diets works, it’s even more true that everything that promises a quick, easy or miraculous way to lose weight doesn’t work. There is an old saying that a person never learns by other people’s mistakes but if you listen to me now, you will save so much time and hassle. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. There is only one way your body loses weight: You use more calories than you consume. A calorie “deficit” if you will. To achieve this deficit you have to eat less calories and burn some calories by exercising. Anyone trying to sell you any other way than that is lying to you. Period.

SOME SORT OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY IS REQUIRED

Okay, in the strictest sense of the word, you could change your diet and lose weight without exercising. But I warn you: it will be SO MUCH HARDER to do so. All extremes are dangerous. If you do not exercise, you will have to eat so little calories to achieve weight loss you will probably be hungry and miserable all day. This leads to cheating and eventually quitting. Not good. Also, the oppsite is true. If you think you can lose weight simply by exercising, you better get ready to say good bye to your social, work and private life. To burn the calories needed to lose weight on the average diet of an obese person, you will probably have to exercise all day. Plus, an obese person simply doesn’t have the physical condition to do that anyway. Again save yourself the trouble. A combination of diet and exercise is the sure-fire ticket to achieve your goals.

I have many more little “nuggets of wisdom”. I will share them with you as we go along. Next time, I will tell you exactly how I’m applying what I have learned to lose weight.

In the Beggining, there was fat…

Posted in General Information with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2009 by uziel5000

10.2 pounds.

That’s how much I weighted when I was born. My first time in the display window of the delivery room, I inspired some guy(who wasn’t there to see me I might add) to say: “That kid is like a 747!!”.  The nurses called me “The Big One”.  That’s how I came in to this world.

From that point on, weight became the issue that defined me. I have been overweight all my life. The closest I have ever been to my “ideal” weight was when I was 23 and came within 25 pounds. 25 pounds overweight. That is the thinnest I have ever been. Anyone who has ever been to school knows the weight (pun intended) the “fat kid” has to carry around. The jokes, the insults, the advice… the advice of course comes from teachers, family and the like. Now that I think about it, I learned to deal with it. It actually did not bother me that much. Whether because of my upbringing or something else, I never placed any importance on looking good which at the time seemed like the main reason given to me to lose weight. That just wasn’t important. Health on the other hand, was rarely brought up. There was just not a lot of emphasis put on that back then. Of course, it didn’t help that I was a healthy child. “What health issues? I feel fine!”.

And so it went. Through Junior High and High School I did enough physical activity to actually stop gaining. Playing basketball regualrly and participating in the Civil Air Patrol plus all the growing I did in that time helped keep my waistline in check. I was still overweight but active. In college I made an attempt to lose weight to join the military, something that always interested me. I have to say I went extremely overboard. For one semester, I skipped breakfast (something I would continue doing for a loooong time), ate two slices of white bread with a slice of cheese and and a slice of ham(I wouldn’t dare call that a sandwich) for lunch and a small salad for dinner. That and running a mile and exercising every day. That’s how I reached the lowest weight I have ever achieved: 214 pounds. Needless to say, I burned myself out. I started eating again and of course I gained everything and then some. After leaving college, I started working and that is when the excersize stopped. After several attempts of yo-yo dieting I went from 283, to 294, to finally 319. The heaviest I have ever been.

Thinking about all the times I have tried to lose weight – and believe me there have been many- I analyze just how serious those attempts were. That is, not serious at all. By that I mean my willingness to lose the weight. Oh, the diets were serious enough. I tried medical supervision, pills(Many to list), fads, gimmicks, LA Weight Loss, Doctor’s Weight Loss Center, 6-week Body Makeover, Atkins… you name it, I did it. Nothing worked. My heart was really not into it. I would quit after a while. And I forgot to mention all the gyms I signed up for and quit after a while. Then, things changed.

I noticed I was getting sleepy all the time. I would fall asleep while driving. No matter how much I rested, how much I slept, I would still be tired and sleepy. I ended up falling asleep during work meetings, which of course brought me a lot of trouble. People at work thought I had a drinking problem. Sometimes, I would find blood on my pillow when I woke up. I had developed Obstructive Sleep Apnea. A chronic case at that. I had never heard of that before, so when it was explained to me that I had trouble geeting a good rest because I wasn’t properly breathing while sleeping, I saw it as an annoyance, not a health problem. Life continued. Incredibly, I have never had a major accident related to Sleep Apnea. A miracle considering I drive for a living. (I work for a labor union) So,  by now you are probably asking: “So what made you change your ways?” Well, here it is.

I got married. Had a daughter. Turned 30.

Simple, right? Suddenly, it wasn’t about me anymore. Bringing life into this world made me realize I wasn’t immortal, and if I wanted to see my kid grow up, I couldn’t keep gaining weight. It was gonna eventually catch up with my health. In fact it already had. That’s when I learned that Sleep Apnea leads to High Blood pressure and heart problems. Reggie White, one of the greatest footbal players of all time, died in his sleep because of Sleep Apnea. One day, I was traveling on business, from North Carolina to New York. As usual, I feel asleep the minute I hit the chair. While on approach I woke up. There was a lady next to me and when she saw I was up, she told me: “Do you know you suffer from Sleep Apnea?” to which I replied that I did. To which she said that she was doctor, and that I had a pretty bad case (I already knew that part), and that in Texas, were she was from, they did a 10-year study on people who suffered from it and at the end of the study, half were dead, either by heart problems or traffic accidents. Half the subjects. What a grim prognosis. I have a 50% chance of dying early. Well, that hit me like a ton of bricks.

So this has led me to analyze many things about my past attempts and really put some thought into a real, final, permanent weight-loss solution. I have done a lot of research and studying. I have set up this blog to share what I have found out and how I’m putting that knowledge into practice. I will also use this as a progress tracker so you can see the results. Hopefully, this will help others trying to lose weight and avoid the mistakes I have made. Moreover, feedback from this blog will help me learn even more. So join me in this quest as I share with you my metamorphosis.